T.A. Noonan is the author of several books and chapbooks, most recently The Midway Iterations (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015), Fall (Lucky Bastard Press, 2015), and The Ep[is]odes: a reformulation of Horace (Noctuary Press, 2016). Her work has appeared in Reunion: The Dallas Review, Menacing Hedge, LIT, West Wind Review, Ninth Letter, Phoebe, and others. A weightlifter, artist, teacher, priestess, and all-around woman of action, she is the Vice President and Associate Editor of Sundress Publications.
from The Ep[is]odes: a reformulation of Horace
‘Beatus ille qui procul negotiis,
ut prisca gens mortalium,
paterna rura bubus exercet suis
solutus omni faenore
neque excitatur classico miles truci
neque horret iratum mare
forumque vitat et superba civium
ergo aut adulta vitium propagine
altas maritat populos
aut in reducta valle mugientium
prospectat errantis greges
inutilisque falce ramos amputans
aut pressa puris mella condit amphoris
aut tondet infirmas ovis.
vel cum decorum mitibus pomis caput
Autumnus agris extulit,
ut gaudet insitiva decerpens pira
certantem et uvam purpurae,
qua muneretur te, Priape, et te, pater
Silvane, tutor finium.
libet iacere modo sub antiqua ilice,
modo in tenaci gramine:
labuntur altis interim ripis aquae,
queruntur in Silvis aves
frondesque lymphis obstrepunt manantibus,
somnos quod invitet levis.
at cum tonantis annus hibernus Iovis
imbris nivisque conparat,
aut trudit acris hinc et hinc multa cane
apros in obstantis plagas
aut amite levi rara tendit retia
turdis edacibus dolos
pavidumque leporem et advenam laqueo gruem
iucunda captat praemia.
quis non malarum quas amor curas habet
haec inter obliviscitur?
quodsi pudica mulier in partem iuvet
domum atque dulcis liberos,
Sabina qualis aut perusta Solibus
pernicis uxor Apuli,
sacrum vetustis exstruat lignis focum
lassi Sub adventum viri
claudensque textis cratibus laetum pecus
distenta siccet ubera
et horna dulci vina promens dolio
dapes inemptas adparet:
non me Lucrina iuverint conchylia
magisve rhombus aut scari,
siquos Eois intonata fluctibus
hiems ad hoc vertat mare,
non Afra avis descendat in ventrem meum,
non attagen Ionicus
iucundior quam lecta de pinguissimis
oliva ramis arborum
aut herba lapathi prata amantis et gravi
malvae salubres corpori
vel agna festis caesa Terminalibus
vel haedus ereptus lupo.
has inter epulas ut iuvat pastas ovis
videre properantis domum,
videre fessos vomerem inversum boves
collo trahentis languido
positosque vernas, ditis examen domus,
circum renidentis Laris.’
haec ubi locutus faenerator Alfius,
iam iam futurus rusticus,
omnem redegit idibus pecuniam,
quaerit kalendis ponere.
“Happy the man who, far from business, is like one from some pristine, isolated tribe. He is unbound by loans, free to employ his father’s oxen in the fields. He neither leaps at wild trumpets nor dreads the angry sea. He avoids the thresholds of proud citizens and powerful men who only want to marry their stocks. Instead, he keeps to his secluded valley. Shouts at wandering flocks. Splices strong shoots on pruned branches. Hides pure-pressed honey in urns. Shears sheep sick with wool. When Autumn raises its ripe head, he celebrates by plucking grafted pears and purple grapes beyond belief, fruits that honor both the god of shepherds and the guardian of ends. He is happy to lie just out of the way, under the ancient oak. Cling to the grass to keep from slipping on the high banks. Listen to the birds complain in the leaves. Fall asleep to the sound of water. When thundering Jupiter comes, bringing winter’s rain and snow, he drives sharp boars into waiting nets. Snares shy rabbits, wily thrushes, rare cranes. Who’d have time to dwell on the bad things with so much to love? And perhaps a woman—some sun-kissed, swift-footed southern girl—plays her modest part. She tends home and children. Piles wood into the sacred hearth, waiting for her weary man to come home. Pens his frisky flock. Milks his cows. Pours sweet wine and sets it before a home-cooked meal. Even if winter waves sent the sea’s rarest fish to my plate, I’d rather eat as that man does. My guts don’t care about Asian pheasants or African chickens. What could be better than one’s own olives, meadow-grown herbs, mallow teas that cleanse the belly of sickness, a goat rescued from wolves, a lamb offered in sacrifice? And between feasts, I could see all I share in reverse: fat sheep hurrying home, weary oxen dragging themselves through fields, slaves gathering around a bright altar.”
So dreams the moneylender of pastoral life. Determined to retire, he collects his money on the fifteenth, but the only crop he farms is of new borrowers on the first.
Mala soluta navis exit alite
ferens olentem Mevium.
ut horridis utrumque verberes latus,
Auster, memento fluctibus;
niger rudentis Eurus inverso mari
fractosque remos differat;
insurgat Aquilo, quantus altis montibus
frangit trementis ilics;
nec sidus atra nocte amicum adpareat,
qua tristis Orion cadit;
quietiore nec feratur aequore
quam Graia victorum manus,
cum Pallas usto vertit iram ab Ilio
in inpiam Aiacis ratem.
o quantus instat navitis sudor tuis
tibique pallor luteus
et illa non virilis heiulatio
preces et aversum ad Iovem,
Ionius udo cum remugiens sinus
Noto carinam ruperit
opima quodsi praeda curvo litore
porrecta mergos iuverit,
libidinosus immolabitur caper
et agna Tempestatibus.
There she goes—a free ship, a bad omen—carrying my stinking rival
[ ]. Remember to make waves, South winds. East, turn the sea into a black cable to beat her hull on both sides until oars shatter. North, rise like a star or a friend, high as mountains, to shiver and fall. Let Orion disappear. Oh, that the old girl was issued in the time of united hands, when the gods turned upon the victorious Greeks. Furious, they trip them in front of the roasting pyre, split rocks into the sea that swallows them. I offer sacrifice that you, all yellow and womanly, should have to roar your prayers. May my gift of lamb make your sailors sweat. May my gift of goat send your bodies to the banks, treasure for the gulls.
Nox erat et caelo fulgebat Luna sereno
inter minora sidera,
cum tu, magnorum numen laesura deorum,
in verba iurabas mea,
artius atque hedera procera adstringitur ilex
lentis adhaerens bracchiis;
dum pecori lupus et nautis infestus Orion
turbaret hibernum mare
intonsosque agitaret Apollinis aura capillos,
fore hunc amorem mutuom,
o dolitura mea multum virtute Neaera:
nam siquid in Flacco viri est,
non feret adsiduas potiori te dare noctes
et quaeret iratus parem
nec semel offensi cedet constantia formae,
si certus intrarit dolor.
et tu, quicumque es felicior atque meo nunc
superbus incedis malo,
sis pecore et multa dives tellure licebit
tibique Pactolus fluat
nec te Pythagorae fallant arcana renati
formaque vincas Nirea,
heu heu, translatos alio maerebis amores,
ast ego vicissim risero.
It is night. The sky is clear. The moon shines on smaller stars. I’m a man of great suffering, one who could be a tall god bound by holly and ivy. It’s you who cling to my arm, though, and swear love. As long as wolves hunt flocks. As long as Orion rises, disturbing winter seas. As long as the wind ruffles Apollo’s unclipped hair. Oh, [ ], that this was mutual love worth suffering for. I have energy but am out of fuel. Your husband will not give you uninterrupted nights. Will not yield any consistent form. Will not ask if you are angry if certain oxygen enters. You and I, however happy now, are going bad. You can tell your cattle that rivers flow. That you’ll be reborn into a beautiful body. That more than one planet can be a beast. My love will soften as another’s hardens, and I will laugh.